Three flix picks for Easter… or any other time of the year

Just want to wish everyone a blessed Easter. This weekend I’m celebrating the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… forever grateful for His atoning sacrifice.

Even those who aren’t believers might opt to watch some Christian-themed films this time of year, such as The Ten Commandments (should be on by now on one of the major network TV), King of Kings, Ben-Hur, The Passion of the Christ,  or the animated feature The Prince of Egypt for the whole family.

I truly respect ‘The Passion‘ despite all the drama surrounding the film and the filmmaker. Obviously the message speaks to me in a profound way, but even if we strip away the spiritual aspect of it for a minute and just see the movie from a film-making piece, it’s tremendous. I like what this guy said in his soulfoodmovies blog: “Simply take a moment to judge The Passion of the Christ on its merits as a film. Look at all the elements that come together to make it so effective–the performances of the actors; the exquisite cinematography; the realistic effects; and ultimately, the way Gibson structures this chapter in the life of Christ.”

The story’s not meant to be a comprehensive biopic on Jesus’ life, but serves as a harrowing and poignant depiction of the extent of Christ’s suffering and His unfathomable passion for humanity. It’s not for kids or for the faint of hearts though. Never in my life have I been so shaken and moved watching a movie… it’s definitely one of the most powerful movies ever made.

While those above are all perfectly good films that are fitting for Easter, here are three other inspirational titles I’d highly recommend, not just for the holiday, but for any other time of the year:

  • Amazing Grace (2006)

    This movie’s release coincide with the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the first anti-slave trade bill, ending 400 years of slave trading. The main protagonist, William Wilberforce is a faithful British member of Parliament. Ioan Gruffud is excellent in the title role, conveying the emotional and physical struggles battling illness and one setback after another in the two decades he fought to end slave trading in England.

    Along the way, he’s encouraged by his mentor John Newton (portrayed marvelously by Albert Finney), the author of the beloved hymn of the movie’s title, a repentant former slave trader. He’s also helped by his allies, PM William Pitt, a scholarly former slave Olaudah Equiano, as well as his loving and influential wife, Barbara Spooner (the lovely Romola Garai). Though it’s heavy on the history and political aspect, but the redemptive values aren’t lost in the process. It’s one of those rare Hollywood films with a deep passion for goodness and virtue that’s entertaining as well as inspiring. The performances of mostly-British talents (Ciaran Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rufus Sewell, etc.) are top notch, but ultimately it’s the profound message and inspiring story that makes this a winning feature.

  • Bella (2006 – view trailer)

    This is an indie movie by Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gomez Monteverde about an unconventional love story between a former soccer star who’ve lost everything after a tragic accident and a waitress who’s pregnant out of wedlock. The film won People’s Choice Award at TIFF in 2006. It’s not a romantic story, but definitely has plenty of heart. Beautifully acted by Mexican heartthrob Eduaro Verastequi in a personal project that reflect his new direction in life, it also boast a strong performance by Tammy Blanchard (who played Judy Garland in a TV movie Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows).

    The pro-life message and subtle message about faith is subtle and not done in a preachy way, these are two ‘broken’ people who find comfort in each other in one day, as they discuss the hardships of life and past hurts. The bond that develop between the two main characters feel natural and engaging, carrying poignant themes of family values, genuine friendship and the healing power of forgiveness.

  • The Gospel of John (2003)

    I see this film as a great feature for before or after seeing ‘The Passion’ as it chronicles Jesus’ ministry more closely in its three-hour running time. It’s a unique biopic of the life, death and resurrection of Christ in that it’s adapted precisely Word for Word from the Good News Translation Bible, unlike a lot of other adaptations that took too much liberty from the source material.

    At first I wasn’t sure how it’d sound how it would translate to the screen and whether the dialog would be awkward, but it’s actually quite effective and engaging. Told from the eyes of one of Jesus’ disciples, John — known as John the evangelist and the disciple whom Jesus loved — the film offers a very human picture of Jesus and a more intimate look of how he interacted with his disciples and people in his day.

    Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond in LOST) as Jesus is interesting casting, he’s certainly not Jewish-looking enough (but not bad compared to the blue-eyed, blond-haired Anglo-Saxon archetypal in previous Jesus’ films) and  more feisty than we’ve seen Jesus being portrayed. Yet he still conveys a compassionate man who’s personal and approachable, but yet charismatic enough to be believable that he could captivate a crowd. Narrated with Christopher Plummer’s deep, soothing voice, it also boasts beautiful cinematography of the setting in Málaga, Spain and the gorgeous music using ancient instruments to achieve the authentic sounds of the time that help takes us back in time. Whatever your belief of who Jesus is, you’d appreciate the backstory of arguably the most influential religious figure in history.

Have a wonderful Easter, everybody! Have you seen any of these titles? What do you typically watch around Easter holiday?

33 thoughts on “Three flix picks for Easter… or any other time of the year

  1. I’ve always been curious about the Amazing Grace film. I’ve seen all of the films in your post’s intro, but none of the three you’ve highlighted, rtm. I’ll need to fix that. Thanks.

    1. Hi le0pard, I’ve just seen it again after I posted this. It’s still as wonderfully-moving as the first time I saw it. I highly recommend it, as well as the other two, I’d love to hear what you think of it after you’ve watched it.

  2. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

    Happy Easter Ruth 🙂

  3. Well i celebrated Passover with my dads side of the family(My dad is jewish). I will be visiting some cousins on my moms side for Easter though(She’s christian).

    I may check out Amazing Grace, but the rest of the movies you listed aren’t really my thing.

    1. That’s cool Julian, I didn’t know your dad is Jewish. My church actually had a “Christ in the Passover” program a few weeks ago where the congregation will actually see a table set with traditional Passover items presented by a Jews for Jesus rep.

      I wish they’d show Amazing Grace on TV, the story is significant from historical perspective as well as the spiritual. Hope you get to see it soon.

      1. Yeah me along with my brothers were raised jewish, but we usually visit my moms side of the family for christian holidays like Christmas.

        And the historical aspect of Amazing Grace is what interests me. I’m not big on religious movies to be honest

        1. Aside from The Gospel of John, I don’t consider Amazing Grace nor Bella as a ‘religious’ movie, though both certainly have spiritual elements.

    1. Well I’m not going to dissuade people from watching it, Andrew, though I think Ben-Hur would also be a good one to be shown on TV during Easter.

        1. Yay le0pard! I actually watched parts of it again last night, including the behind-the-scenes stuff. It never ceases to amaze me, especially the filming of the chariot scene.

          1. Oh, Ben-Hur is the better film of course (Heston and Boyd are AWESOME). Although, my favourite “religious” flick is Richard Burton in THE ROBE…though I often find it unintentionally hilarious. I’m so terrible.

  4. Ruth! Have a very blessed Easter. I thank God for allowing me to be your friend! I got your voicemail! Thanks so much! Thankful to God for His love and His Son! Have a blessed Resurrection Sunday!

    1. Hi T, happy Easter to you, buddy! Glad you got my VM, maybe next time we’ll actually connect. Church was wonderful this morning, the praise & worship was just uplifting, praise the Lord indeed!

  5. Funk

    Hope everyone has had a most wonderful Easter.
    Those choices are pretty good, and the Passion of Christ is most intense thats for sure and it’s my 2nd favorite.
    So far my favorite is “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, (1965) with Max von Sydow as Christ, Charlton Heston as John the Baptist, David McCallum as Judas, Sal Mineo as Uriah, and many more top names. Outstanding music score, Plus it’s a good long movie and clocks in at 3 hours plus.

    Happy Easter all!

    1. Hi Funk, I had a wonderful & mellow Easter, how about you? Glad you enjoyed ‘The Greatest Story’, I wanted to see it after reading your comment, but it’s available on disc only from Netflix, can’t wait to see it now. We opted to watch Amazing Grace instead for Saturday night. Wow, I was still incredibly moved by it the second time around, have you seen it? I highly recommend that one if you haven’t.

      1. Funk

        Wow, I’m in luck, Amazing Grace is on Itunes so I’ll be downloading it most tick.
        Sounds like its going to be one outstanding movie, full of emotion and drama, plus don’t mind shedding a good tear or two.
        I’ve been a fan Ioan Gruffud since his work in the Horatio Hornblower series.
        Thanks for the recommendation and all the great work you’ve put in.

        1. Wahoo, glad to hear that Dave (is it ok if I call you that? :D) The movie is so moving you’d be hard pressed not to cry… especially considering what Wilberforce went through to fight for the slavery ban.

          Oooh I haven’t seen Horatio but I’ve been meaning to. Thanks for reminding me, I gotta get that on my Netflix queue.

          1. Funk

            Yep, Dave is just fine, no problem-o.
            Amazing Grace will be my Friday night viewing.

            Ya you should like the Hornblower series, its pretty well done, top notch..

    1. Makasih Nov, too bad we don’t get any time off for Easter though, in fact, I actually worked a bit late on Good Friday. Anyway, hope your weekend was good.

  6. PrairieGirl

    Hey Flixy, love the tulips! Even without Rufus, Amazing Grace is a superb film, but he makes it just that much better. Sounds like I’d really enjoy The Gospel of St. John, I will put it on my list. Bella is quite good, but don’t think I could ever bring myself to see Passion of the Christ.

    1. Thanks! The tulips are another one of photos Ivan gave me.

      Amen on Amazing Grace, it’s just a wonderful story that’s beautifully adapted on screen.
      Oh I actually have The Gospel of John on dvd (not Blu-Ray) that I can lend you. So you did see Bella? Cool, I keep hoping Eduardo would get bigger roles as he’s such a great actor.

      1. PrairieGirl

        I saw Bella quite a while ago, after hearing about it from you. I don’t care for it as much as you, but it was still a good film. Oh, yes, please do bring in TGOSJ for me.

  7. ah, I must admit PASSION was the most unnecessarily gory and disgusting film I’ve ever seen, with not a single reason to justify director’s absurd joy in bloodbath. Or at least I thought so until I saw Mel’s APOCALYPTO 😦
    But the later events in his private life told us everything …

    1. I respect your viewpoint and I like you a lot as a friend, Dezzy, but we obviously have a completely different opinion about the subject matter. As a believer in Christ, the film speaks to me in a profound level. I understand it might be disgusting to people who don’t believe, and I’m not condoning extreme violence in movies by any means, but historically, the way Christ died is even more gruesome than it was depicted by Mel Gibson. It’s said in the Bible that Jesus’ face was completely disfigured whilst in the film you could still see Jim Caviezel’s face. So the point is to show the ‘passion’ (which in Latin literally means ‘to suffer’) for humanity that He’s willing to sacrifice to atone for our sins.

      Now, as for the filmmaker himself, he certainly has serious issues and he needs to get help, but other than that, it’s not my place to judge him as a person nor do I believe who he is in real life is reflected in the film in any way.

    2. This is clearly a film and an issue that will always divide opinion and I think any attempt to convince anyone of something they don’t want to accept just makes them more determined to reject it.

      I read a film review of the Passion shortly after it was released which ran something like: ‘A film made for zealots by a zealot’. Although I think this is an unfair analysis of the film, this kind of reaction is hardly surprising, and as Ruth rightly says I can see why the graphic nature of the violence would put non-believers off.

      In response to your statement: ‘…with not a single reason to justify the director’s adsurd joy in bloodbath’. I can think of one good reason. The crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Anyone who has read the gospels regarding the passion of Jesus will know how faithful the film is to the descriptions of these scenes. Indeed it has helped to bring them vividly to life for many believers, this one included.

  8. Pingback: Spotlight on three new favorite actors: Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston & Benedict Cumberbatch

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